Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Today's New Flagellants

During the Middle Ages small groups of especially guilt-ridden sinners did penance by whipping themselves… at times in private, but also in public. They were called flagellants.

During the plague years said flagellants marched through towns whipping themselves. They believed that it was a good way to purge themselves and their communities of sin. Since the plague was obviously punishment for their sins, they believed that if they did sufficient penance for their sins, God would withdraw the plague. 

The modern version of the plague is obviously: global warming. It was caused by the sin of the Industrial Revolution and can only be stopped if we engage in empty penitential gestures-- like renouncing plastic shopping bags in favor the germ-ridden burlap bags.

As we know, publical flagellation didn’t work. The plague killed something like half of the population of Europe. Eventually, good Europeans figured out that their suffering was not part of a theological drama but had been caused by microbial organisms. And they learned that God’s work in stopping plagues would best be done through medication and sanitation.

As it happens, our contemporary flagellants believe that their sins have caused all of the world’s ills, especially those associated with income inequality and racial injustice. If they are true believers and also white males they feel excessively sinful and never miss an opportunity to do public penance… often by making complete fools of themselves.

Witness the scene yesterday at a public meeting conducted by Chelsea Clinton.  Having been called upon to ask the first question, a male took it upon himself to apologize for being a man.

The Daily Caller has the story:

“Well, first off, I’d like to state that this is a great idea,” the questioner continued. “Sorry that the first person to get the mic is a man.”

“I do apologize for that. I do think it’s important to encourage women’s voices in every aspect of life.”

Got it? This pathetic excuse for a human being was apologizing for being a man. That’s what political correctness has been doing to the country. 

And just in case you were feeling especially guilty about being white, you can attend a free online seminar designed to purge your toxic whiteness. Because white people are responsible for all of the world’s ills and you would not want to be associated with such a race, would you? From, The College Fix, via Maggie's Farm.  And you were wondering why people were upset.

The seminar defines toxic whiteness, which obviously causes white privilege:

Similar to toxic masculinity, toxic whiteness is something that was created by white supremacy and is not inherent to white people. Like all social constructs, whiteness doesn’t have to be toxic – it’s just that the way it predominantly exists today is indeed toxic. This becomes clearer when you take a historical view of how toxic whiteness was invented. In the early 19th century, the wealthy northwestern European landowners who colonized the Americas created the social construct of whiteness to prevent poor Europeans (like the Irish and Italians) from joining with enslaved Africans and indigenous folks against the ruling class. In return for access to what was once denied to them in addition to people of color (e.g. land, education, and jobs), poor Europeans had to disconnect from their cultural heritage, the history of why they left oppressive Europe, and truth about how they were being exploited by wealthy white people into oppressing others. It was a pretty raw deal that manipulated them into acting against people of color and their own well-being in exchange for white privilege (which continues to happen today). That’s why it’s important for white people to free themselves from this toxic whiteness, which was created by white supremacy and has unconsciously conditioned them to this day.

This represents what currently passes for thinking. It is more paranoid than what was going on during the Middle Ages. But, if you attend certain colleges or hang around with certain crowds, you will quickly learn that if you are a white person, you are complicit in all the crimes committed by white people in the course of human civilization. Evidently, this altered state of consciousness will debilitate and demoralize you.

Note well, that if you ever dare say that the police are more suspicious of people of a certain ethnic group because they are far more likely to commit crimes, you will be pilloried and punished to within an inch of your moral being.

Guilt by association for me, but not for thee.


Trigger Warning said...

This is why I'm voting for Hillary, or her replacement if she goes completely vegetal before the election.

Rather than vote for a person who might (who knows?) attempt to stem the tide, I want to hurry it along so I may live to see a day that the APA declares Toxic Whiteness a disorder by acclamation, and legislatures decide that White Privileging is a hate crime.

That's when the need for conspicuous virtue signaling will cease and the real penance will begin. To paraphrase one of my personal heroes, the white Progressives will discover that never before was so much owed by so few to so many.

Dennis said...

Aren't we the wry one?

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: The modern version of the plague is obviously: global warming. It was caused by the sin of the Industrial Revolution and can only be stopped if we engage in empty penitential gestures-- like renouncing plastic shopping bags in favor the germ-ridden burlap bags.

Actually reducing the wastefulness plastic bags have nothing to do with global warming.

If marketers have their way someday soon we'll all wear plastic disposable clothing as well. Think of all the money and time we'll save when we no longer have to wash our germ-ridden clothing.

We can Make America Great Again by acting completely different than our ancestors who foolishly believed in crazy virtues like temperance and humility.

Ares Olympus said...

On "Toxic whiteness" I'm in full agreement the language of toxicity itself appears to be toxic. I did a search and found this recent article, and it turned into making Trump. It is curious her examples of toxic whiteness are basically about men.
“Your whiteness is toxic”

This was a comment directed at me on Facebook recently. For the record, I really try NOT to engage in FB political fights, especially with people I don’t know, but, in this case, I had made what I thought was a fairly innocuous (although definitely privileged) comment: that voting is an important form of civic engagement.
My parents were not racist; nor later, when homosexuality became part of the political discussion, were they homophobic. They believed voting was an important element of civic engagement but they were also very involved in their community and church. I do not believe I was raised in a toxic environment.

But I do believe that my whiteness is a little bit toxic.

I also believe we are living now in an era of toxic whiteness, with Donald Trump being the crowned prince of the movement. Brock Turner and his Dad whitesplaining rape is another good example.

Affluenza teen yet another.
Donald Trump’s casual, flagrant racism is the hallmark of this toxicity. He knows he can get away with it, just as Brock Turner believed he could get away with violating an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. Brock says his drunkenness (and hers) excuses his behavior, but he was not so drunk that he didn’t know to try to run away when he was caught.

And while I do know some white people who actively fight against racial inequality and discrimination of all kinds, a lot of us do what I am doing right now: we say we believe it is wrong while living in our safe, protected bubble.

We vote for liberal candidates and think our job is done. We think our progressive, inclusive beliefs are good enough effort. And this is the reason my whiteness was called “toxic.”

Hello, my name is Kara and I am a toxic white person. I live in a world where I can take action or not take action against social injustice because it “doesn’t affect me personally.”

I live in a world where I can teach my son that his vote matters; in fact, because he is a white male, I can teach him that he can be anything he wants to be and mean it in earnest.

I did nothing to earn my privilege, just as I did nothing to earn my heterosexuality; but I can rest easier than most of my fellow citizens because of both of them.

I don’t feel guilty about being white. I do feel guilty about not fully using the status and privilege it has unfairly conferred on me to make the world my son is growing up in a more inclusive and better place. I have taught him that he has a responsibility to his community in general and the less-privileged specifically.

But I need to step up my game and embody this for him so he understands sooner than I did how much work there is left to be done.

I don't think toxic is a helpful word. From the article above, it seems more to just mean "entitled to be oblivious to the hardships of others not like me."

So there's an assumption that if we could all pay attention and be empathetic, we could do small things to make life better for others.

She uses the word "inclusivity" and that's a good value to have, but clearly also has its own blind-spots, if it means dividing the world between entitled people who can often freely act badly without consequences and unentitled people who are often hit by large negative consequences for otherwise small bad decisions.

Her case might be stronger if she named some women as well, who are attractive enough to get what they want, and make sure someone else always pays when the bill comes.

Sam L. said...

Toxic whiteness seem to be a mental disease for those who think all white people have it. How white must a white person be to be white? One drop of white blood? Fifty percent or more? Remember that Obama is a 50%er.

Trigger Warning said...

What about Sen Lieawatha Warren?

Trigger Warning said...

If it's "unfair" status, give it up. No one's stopping you. I'm sure there's a spare Safeway cart somewhere in San Francisco

I'm thinking, though, it's more appealing to just talk about it. Conspicuous piety.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I'm so glad you're here, Ares... so glad you're here. Your prose moves me. Thank you for being such a sharp researcher. Share it on your own blog. It needs you. We need you to tend to it.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares, you believe in global warming. The joke's on you.

Ares Olympus said...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said... Ares, you believe in global warming. The joke's on you.

That's a rather weak insult. You must have been rushed. Interestingly your dismissal don't constitute reality any more than my belief in unknown long term risks that we should consider.

If you ask me if I think climate change is what will sink civilization as we know it, I'll say not alone, but along with a soon to be 9 billion people and an ever larger fraction looking for a good place to live, you have to think migration and refugees are going to increase in the future for many reasons including war, which is sometimes triggered by localized climate crises, human caused or not. Its really hard to attribute any specific cause to convince people to uproot the safety of a place they know.

But we'd better get working on our walls, which will be 10 feet higher if you question my demand that you pay for it. And 1000 mile long walls however useless in reducing migrations, at least help people know they are not welcome, just in case they were not sure.

It's still amazing that people want to live in a place they are not welcome. I guess its because there are so many places to hide and keep a low profile, which usually means avoiding criminal activity.

I bet many illegal immigrants might even promise to wash cloth bags for their grocery shopping, if only they would be allowed to stay and not be designated as a rapists, murders or I assume some nice people.

Ares Olympus said...

Sam L. said... Toxic whiteness seem to be a mental disease for those who think all white people have it. How white must a white person be to be white? One drop of white blood? Fifty percent or more? Remember that Obama is a 50%er.

Interestingly my pastor talked about White Supremacy a few years ago, although not directly in his sermons. He said American whiteness wasn't genetic, but cultural, although light-skin is important I guess. Jews didn't used to be white, but now they are in the club. He said even light-skinned Korean Americans like himself can aspire to be white, even with no northern European ancestry. Iconocast Episode 43 With Jin S. Kim "White Supremacy and the Logic of Empire"

I did my best to argue one-on-one against the terminology, and that's the real problem, what people say, and what they mean by what they say, and what is heard are often very different things.

Overall, I'll stick with Wendell Berry's approach and the art of sales resistance, and avoiding debt most of all.

Perhaps what "Toxic whiteness" is now reduced to is the magical thinking that getting in in ever more debt now will allow you to prosper and pay it back later, always later, with interest, all without ever compromising your values or principles. Oh, and don't forget "toxic whiteness" is about a faith in a comfortable retirement based on other people in the future getting into large amounts of debt to keep your asset values up until you've sold them all.

Sam L. said...

Ares, I guess it's my toxic whiteness that caused me to save for retirement.